A horrifying glimpse of the decades-long nightmare still afflicting the people of Iran.

READ REVIEW

LETTERS TO MY TORTURER

LOVE, REVOLUTION, AND IMPRISONMENT IN KHOMEINI’S IRAN

A harrowing memoir of imprisonment and torture under the Islamic Republic of Iran.

As a little boy, Asadi kissed the hand of the Ayatollah Khomeini, just prior to the cleric’s exile from Iran. Khomeini returned in 1979, as leader of a revolution Asadi vigorously supported. By then this thoroughly secular intellectual had already been imprisoned three times for political agitation against the Shah. During one stretch, Asadi, a navy veteran and trained journalist, formed a jailhouse friendship with the deeply religious Ali Khamenei, who would later become the country’s Supreme Leader. Asadi taught his cellmate how to interpret newspaper content and how to read “between the lines.” Seeking to consolidate their power, the religious fundamentalists who ran the regime incarcerated thousands, accusing them of plotting against the revolution. In 27 chapters, each styled as an epistle to his torturer, Brother Hamid, who later became an ambassador for Iran, Asadi recounts his life, his political disillusionment and especially the unspeakable mental, spiritual and physical scarring he suffered in Tehran’s Moshtarak and Evin prisons. Living among rats and cockroaches, forced to wear a blindfold in his captors’ presence, Asadi was ordered to walk on all fours, to bark like a dog and to eat his own excrement. Suffering from broken teeth, chronic headaches, shoulder pain (from being strung up) and regular bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, and beaten regularly on the soles of his feet, he attempted suicide at least twice. After supplying under brutal duress the “confession” to spying his tormentors required, he barely avoided execution and was finally released in 1989. With moving stories about fellow prisoners, biting commentary on the religious dictates imposed by his jailers and meditations on the soul-destroying effect of false confessions and the special cruelty of his ideological, authoritarian interrogators, Asadi’s simple prose attracts even as the facts he reports repel. A trip to Moscow in 1980 had already soured him on communism. Six years in prison turned him against the fanatics his wife once described as “the sandals of despotism.” Now in exile in Paris, he has rejected politics entirely, declaring, “I…freed myself from myself.”

A horrifying glimpse of the decades-long nightmare still afflicting the people of Iran.

Pub Date: June 24, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-85168-750-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 12

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

Did you like this book?

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more